Tag Archives: roar before the 24

The Roar Before the Rolex 24 Hour the debrief

I have to say that booking flights this year instead of driving down to Florida was a brilliant idea… boy am I glad I did that. The night I was flying out to Orlando flights at Newark were beginning to get cancelled for the next day. After I arrived in Daytona, NYC was getting 12 inches of snow, a storm that already dumped a ton on Savannah, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. There was even snow in the panhandle of Florida. No snow in Daytona Beach for the weekend but it was absolutely freezing. I brought a ton of warm winter clothing but I was still freezing cold.

Anyway… main reason for signing up to volunter this event was to see the new cars for the 2018 season. There was a lot new. The Acuras of Team Penske were quite ugly to look at but fast right out of the box. The Cadillac Dallaras were predictably the quickest. Mazda was still predictably slow, even under Team Joest management.

I love the fact there were so many prototypes. Seems like more than I remember in previous years. The GT Daytona collection had amazing variety again. Very nice to see both BMW M6 and M8 side by side in naked carbon fiber form.

In Continental Tire series it was near to see the fleet of TCR cars. Volksvagen Golf GTi especially was impressive to watch as it spun a few times in the bus stop where I was flagging for a few days.

Mercedes and Audi GT4 cars were a surprise especially when I realized that the R8 was a V10!

I got a chance to flag from Turn 4 as well and worked Turn 3 on Monday for Ferrari Challenge which looked revived with the Ferrari 488 Evo spec racers.

It was a great weekend despite the cold. Looking forward to the Rolex 24 next week.

Roar Before the 24 Pit Lane Preview

This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.

I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.

Here’s a few pix:

The elusive Team Joest Mazda

Alonso!

Hold on…

Jackie Chan Racing

Keep holding…

Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.

Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.

With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.

Post Card from the Conti Paddock at the Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Sunday Fun Day… Finally things turned around for me. I finally got my preferred station assignment to work Turn 4, which meant I could visit the paddock and take in all the new stuff on display this season.

Apparently IMSA will be following SRO specifications for GT4 machinery. And there’s lots of it here: Mercedes-AMG GT4 and Audi R8 GT4 joining an established field of Aston Martin GT4, Porsche Cayman GT4, and Mustang GT4.

A whole new series previously previewed in a competing series last year with Pirelli World Challenge: the TCR cars. We had a number of Audi RS3 LMS and a single VW Golf GTi TCR.

Here’s the pix:

Oh yes, another new addition to the GS field BMW M4

Lots of German silver cars in this growing field previously dominated by Mustangs and Camaros.

Post Card from the 2018 Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway

Greetings from freezing-cold Daytona. Starting temps in the 30’s every morning has been brutal. Worse than previous year’s Roar. What makes this one even more miserable and disappointing is the fact I haven’t gotten a chance to work with my buddy John in Turn 4, instead I’m getting punished at Turn 7 for some reason. Very nice people working there but it’s not why I signed up to work this event.

Luckily John and i managed to get to the paddock Saturday evening during the dinner break. Most cars were torn down but I got a few good shots of the Penske Acuras.

Hopefully I’ll get a better opportunity to check out the Joest Mazda’s on the last day tomorrow, Sunday.

Lots of prototypes for this event with a healthy field of GT’ s as well. Lots of new stuff too!

The old Spirit of Daytona Multimatic LMP2

Jackie Chan Racing LMP2’s

New BMW M8 vs. Old M6

Fingers crossed for another paddock visit tomorrow, or the $300 bux spent on this trip was poured down the drain.

Miata Fiata Radio: Episode 2 the New Jersey to Florida Road Trip

A short and sweet episode talking about the recent New Jersey to Florida Road Trip I just took to volunteer for the Roar before the 24.


Miata Fiata Radio – Road Trip from New Jersey to Florida in January to Volunteer Roar before the 24 at Daytona

Summary:

The goal was to talk about the logistics of the road trip. The route I took was the longer of two options, instead of the more direct i95 along the Eastern Seaboard I took i81 instead. It added about 40 miles more to the trip, but I saved $40 or so in tolls (and a lot of frustration of sitting in traffic along all the major cities on that route, like Philly, Washington DC, Richmond, etc.)

Discounted gas cards are discussed. I purchased Sunoco, BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil cards to save on fuel and used the GasBuddy app’s map feature to see the cheaper stations ahead on my route. I played a game to calculate how far I could go and arrive at the station with the Low Fuel light lit up.

Foodie tour was mentioned. I said this trip was fueled by BBQ. I tried an amazing place in Rock Hill, SC called Dixie Pig and fell in love with their Pig Wings. And Due South BBQ in Christianburg, VA who had an amazing selection of BBQ sauces and some freebie bone bags for my fake beagle back home.

Things to watch out for. Checking tire pressure to avoid getting a flat or a blowout. Being careful with window chips, which I got… caught a rock to the windshield. Getting plenty of rest along the way so you don’t crash.

I completely forgot to talk about my Miata meet up in Jacksonville where a few First Coast Miata club folks came out to have dinner with me. Sorry about that.

Stay tuned for more!

Mazda MX-5: 2,000+ Mile Miata Road Trip and Foodie Tour from NJ to Florida in the Winter

2,355 miles to be exact.

It’s been a mild winter so far, and I had this genius idea to drive my Miata from New Jersey to Florida to volunteer the Roar before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway this January. The plan was to drive during the day so I minimize the possibility of hitting black ice in the Northern States and arrive Daytona Beach in time to have dinner with some friends there. It almost worked.

I got to meet with some folks from the First Coast Miata Club in Jacksonville along the way which I already wrote about. That was awesome, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about the drive part of the road trip and the foodie tour I got to do in different states along the way.

This trip was completely and totally BBQ based when it comes to food. I divided my driving in two stints. Home to Rock Hill, SC on the first day which covered about 680 miles and the rest on second day for the first trip. And Daytona Beach to Christiansburg, Virginia on the first day which again was about 640 miles and the rest on the second day which was around 500 miles. The Rock Hill stop was convenient because there was quite a few restaurants in town, I tried Cook Out chain for the first time since I was starving when I arrived. But since it was still early in the day I researched something more substantive to try. The Dixie Pig came highly recommended online and through the front desk at my hotel, so I went to give them a try and boy am I glad I did. The food was absolutely delicious. Their ribs kept on repeating on me for several days after I had them, but my favorite menu item was their “Pig Wings” which was on the appetizer list just below Chicken Wings. What are Pig Wings? Apparently they are baby pig (under 250 lbs) upper legs, succulent and juicy and served smothered in a variety of sauces. I tried the garlic sauce option first time. But liked them so much I made sure to stop by Dixie Pig on the drive home too and tried BBQ sauce option. Mmmmm mmm! I highly recommend both this restaurant and especially the “pig wings” menu item. Well worth the $10 bux price!

On the drive home the stopover in Virginia was near to another barbecue joint called Due South BBQ. I had googled it in advance and wanted to go there after I check in at my hotel, but since I missed my exit I ended up going directly to the restaurant. It too was amazing, especially all their sauce varieties! I got a pulled pork sandwich and another brisket sandwich which seemed like a good idea at the moment when I arrived hungry… but turned out to be way too much meat for the night. The sign outside the restaurant did say “Come Pig Out With Us” and I certainly did. My favorite feature of the restaurant was a display stand near the counter full of bones that were neatly sealed in individual bags with a sign: “Take One, FREE” for your dog. Which I made sure to do… and my fake beagle Maxi Max really enjoyed chewing on them for a few days now.

With the Jacksonville Miata club we hit up Metro Diner which is apparently known for their Chicken and Waffles… a typical southern dish. Several of the Miata guys ordered the fried chicken option, while I went with a New Orleans Shrimp and Grits dish where the grits were prepared differently (they were in solid block not running like they typically are). Great stuff!

While in Daytona I was limited to the track food which the Central Florida Region SCCA didn’t skimp out on. We were offered delicious sandwiches every day and had a tasty pizza party one of the nights. They had so much pizza we were asked to take a  bunch of it home, which I did… so we had pizza for a few days that weekend.

The race weekend (without any actual real racing, it was all practice sessions) went by super quickly. And I departed Daytona Beach bright and early Monday morning. No sooner did I settle onto the highway at a comfortable cruising speed when all of a sudden I heard and felt a massive rock smashing into my windshield. It was weird because there were absolutely no cars in front of me other than a pick up truck in the right lane some distance away putzing along, and another car that had passed me like half a minute earlier in the left lane at a high rate of speed. That rock put a tiny chip in my windshield, right in line of sight on the driver’s side of the glass. Boo!

I was a bit concerned driving through the Carolinas because on my way down the Charlotte news was in panic mode… they were predicting 2 to 6 inches of snow over the weekend (& actually got 8). I knew it wouldn’t be snowing on my drive home but I also knew that ice was a possibility… a little side note: while in the hotel room listening to the news freak out about winter weather (which apparently the Carolinas don’t normally get) I quickly researched and booked a flight for my second trip to Florida at the end of the month to volunteer the actual race – Daytona 24 hours. But back to the drive, there was a lot of snow on the ground as soon as I crossed into North Carolina. The roads were nicely salted and fairly clear. The snow however started melting which meant my car got absolutely sprayed with that salty slush. But I made it through OK. The scary part was actually about an hour closer to home in Pennsylvania. All the road sings were lit up with “Warning, Winter Weather” and there was very fine but dense snow making visibility limited. But what worried me was the fact that about half an inch of that slush had formed on the travel lanes of the highway. It wasn’t enough to plough. And no snow trucks were out yet. So I backed off the accelerator and started following one of the many semi-trucks on the road who cleared a path for me. As soon as I arrived my home area in New Jersey I went right to the car wash to hose off all that salt off the car.

It was an excellent trip, even when my car sustained some minor damage with the chip in the windshield. I ordered a repair kit on eBay for about $10 bux and will seal the chip so that it doesn’t spread and form a bigger crack.

Some photos from the drive:

The cheapest gas I found was in South Carolina shortly after I got on i95 from i26. The prices did swing wildly for 93 octane premium gas with $2.43/gal price at this location and $3.25/gal at another Sunoco just a few miles down the highway (same state and probably same county, just different town). It was interesting to say the least and I used the GasBuddy app to check prices ahead of time when I was running low on fuel.

And some foodie tour pix:

The sandwiches from Due South BBQ in Virginia.

Pig Wings from Dixie Pig in Rock Hill, South Carolina with an old Mazda pick up parked outside.

Chicken and Waffles and Chicken and Mashed Potatoes from Metro.

I think I will repeat this road trip again come March to volunteer the St. Pete Grand Prix and Sebring 12 hour… it’s a lot of fun!

Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway the debrief

This was my first Roar before the 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

For a motorsport event this was an interesting one because officially there wasn’t actually any racing taking place, it was all practice sessions over a three day period. The reason for my participation is my desire to check out several of the brand new race cars making their debut this IMSA racing season. Among them of course is the Mazda DPi car. As well as the Cadillac DPi’s, and the Nissan Ligiers, and the Oreca’s and Riley’s. As well as Acura NSX GT3’s, the Lexus IS-F RC-F GT3’s (I previously referred to the Lexus as IS-F it’s actually RC-F), the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR GTE’s, Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3’s finally debuting in America. McLaren 570S GT4’s debuting in the support series alongside Porsche Cayman GT4’s.

This post will be all the good, the bad and the ugly opinions.

The good.

Lots of cars in attendance. I’m very pleased with the Acura’s, the Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche’s, Mazda and Cadillac DPi’s and the LMP2’s from Oreca, Ligier and Riley. All those cars… it was great to see them on track shaking things down.

I’m really glad I got a few opportunities to take some pictures. It was important to me to have some good memories I can share with friends, and I call it mission accomplished. It was very good to work with my friend John all weekend, who took some awesome pix for me also. He let me crash at his house and even let me catch a ride to the track with him every day. Definitely appreciate that! CFR SCCA was excellent. We received $25 Gas Cards for every day of participation and $50 hotel credit (IOU’s) for future CFR events. (Which I think I may actually cash in during Sebring or St. Pete)

Also really happy to run into other flag marshals that drive Miatas

The bad.

Weather was cold. Like stupid cold. I was prepared to a degree… since I drove my Miata down I loaded it up with multiple pairs of clothes. I had 4 white t-shirts, 3 white hoodies, 2 pairs of white pants, 1 white jacket, 1 non-white jacket, and a whole bunch of undershirts…. not to mention a few bandanas which came very useful to block the arctic wind from hitting my face. But it was still stupid cold! I was thinking I could handle 59F in the evening and 65F during the day. We dropped down to 35F on Sunday, and had most of the day raining on Saturday with the temperatures dropping. The wind was especially killer!

This was how bundled up I was, and still cold:

That said, Friday… the first day of the event was T-shirt weather. I think it was in the high 70’s and I got a nice sunburn on my face!

There was a lot of opportunities to take some awesome shots of race cars while Media vans were shooting their official photos on track (while we were off-duty) unfortunately our station was way too far from the track to get a decent shot.

The ugly.

I like most BMW Art Cars… except this year’s. I think this year’s model with the polka-dots on the front, and roof is stupid! The word “FAST” on driver’s side and an actual picture of that race car stickered on the passenger door is just dumb…. I don’t understand the attraction other than the stupidity of it and for that reason I find it very ugly!

The other ugly news during the event was another shooting in FLL – Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida… one of my favorite airports to fly into when going to Miami and South Florida. That was not good news… in fact that was ugly news, and it ran right under the news about the Roar before the 24 in the paper:

For an event that I thought I would never do again, I would totally do this again. Both the Roar before the 24 and the Daytona 24h race.

It was a blast!

Good people though made this experience possible for me.

Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24 Daytona Int’l Speedway

Mission Accomplished!

My goal for this 1,000+ mile Road Trip in my MX-5 Miata from NJ to Florida was to get some close-up shots of the new Mazda RT24-P DPi at the Roar before the 24. It almost looked like it wouldn’t happen. Every time we would visit the paddock during lunch or at the end of day, both Mazda’s would be in pieces… I wanted the whole car. So we tried again on the very last day… instead of going to the CFR SCCA compound for lunch we rushed to the paddock and snuck into the Mazda pits where a few photographers crammed into the back of the minivan they were going to use to drive on track and take pictures of the Mazda’s following them… that didn’t happen. We talked to one of the crew who told us that the #55 Mazda was called in for tech inspection, so we started making our way back to that area when we saw one being towed. Not sure what happened at inspection but they pulled it into the garage and it didn’t return for the afternoon practice session. At the end of the day we again rushed back to the paddock after watching #70 car practice, and caught it just in time after it was parked in it’s garage and one of the crew started removing the rear engine panel off. I made a comment that no matter how we tried we just couldn’t seem to catch the car in once piece, the crew member looked at me, stopped walking away, and put the panel back so I can take some pictures. Wow! What a nice gesture!?! He let us come into the garage and get some good selfies there. Thanks so much SpeedSource employee!

Here’s the pix, finally:

A perfectly executed 5 point turn 🙂

I’m really thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to watching the team do well in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship!

First impressions of the car? I love the body styling. It’s all brand new. Instead of the bug-eyed look of the previous gen Lola, this one has much sleeker surface, almond-eyes, nice RX-hues to it all over. But the power house sounds exactly the same as the old one. Reliability issues remain similar. Both cars took a while to come out to practice and just as quickly went back into the garages. When they were running both were very quick. For the longest while in one practice session #55 was quickest. #70 was right behind it. The #13 Rebellion Racing prototype took the top spot away but the Mazdas were solidly quick. They did not get nearly as much track time as the Cadillac DPi’s did and that’s what makes me think that they will continue dominate while the Mazda’s will challenge them for pole position at most races, faltering back due to reliability during the races. Sucks but that seems to be the reality. I’d like to be proven wrong. Good luck SpeedSource & Mazda Motorsports!